My Life On Adderall And The Average All Nighter

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I recommend reading this while on Adderall.

I have a long and conflicted history with Adderall. Unlike most of you pill guzzling, speed-addicted future leaders of America, who use Adderall for the sole purpose of pulling an all-nighter, either to cram for a final or override your body’s natural urge to fall asleep after drinking a liter of whiskey, I was legally prescribed the drug that will ultimately ensure our country’s continuing dominance in the 21st Century.

At the end of my eighth-grade year, my mother, being motherly, was concerned about my learning habits, so she took me to a child psychiatrist. After determining that my aversion to math and science was NOT the result of being inappropriately touched by Bill Nye on that tour of PBS studios I took as a child, the psychiatrist diagnosed me with Attention Deficit Disorder.

At the time ADD wasn’t viewed like it is today. It was not normal to have ADD back then. Frankly, and I’m dead serious here, I thought the doctor had just told me I was mildly retarded, in the strictest medical sense.

Retarded AND braces? Goodbye vagina forever.

Nowadays ADD is pretty normal. Lots of people have it, hell, lots of people want it, if only to get their hands on some sweet, sweet Adderall, or as I like to call it, Speed: For Kids! Of course there are still people who might be upset at the thought of being “different” or “less than,” which are two common stigmas associated with ADD. Parents will say things to them like, “It just means you’re creative honey.” I’m a writer. Do I have ADD because I’m creative? No. That’s a lie that hippie parents tell their pussy kids. You know what my parents told me after my diagnosis? They said, “It means you have trouble learning and you need medicine to help you.” They gave it to me straight, which I appreciate, even though that explanation combined with the slow and deliberate manner with which it was delivered only furthered my belief that I had gone full retard.

The real reason I have ADD is probably because I watched too much TV as a kid. Considering that Hey Dude and Nickelodeon GUTS are no longer on television, but the outdoors and fresh air still exist, I feel like I made the right choice. Besides, I’m not even obese. Coming away with only ADD means I fought television to a draw. I’ll take it.

Then came high school, and I met other seemingly normal kids with ADD. My shame slowly began to wane. After I was granted unlimited time on the ACT I began to openly celebrate my “disability,” telling my normal-brained friends to suck my balls, nice and slow, like my reading comprehension.

I came to realize that having ADD, and the accommodations that came with it, actually gave me a leg up. It was the equivalent of being a baseball player who has a harder time seeing pitches, so he is granted the luxury of not having to face a ball thrown faster than 70mph AND is allowed to take steroids, yet still gets to have his statistics count the same as everyone else’s. It’s a pretty sweet deal.

By the time I got to college ADD was all the rage, mostly because Adderall was in high demand. With a full bottle of pills, a prescription that served as an eternal spring of book speed, and no sense of ethics whatsoever, I immediately took advantage. During midterms and finals I felt like a kingpin. People I didn’t even know were texting me for Adderall, which was actually a little discomforting. The first time I put my Addy on the market I had no idea how popular it actually was. At one point I had a Theta, the academically inclined sorority at Mizzou, offer me $150 for my whole bottle.

There are people who say that non-ADD students who use Adderall are cheating, that the drug demeans the process of learning, that it cheapens education. Those people are really fucking old and really fucking stupid. If Adderall cheapens education then I argue that taking Viagra cheapens their love for their spouses. I’m pretty sure I once heard in a sermon that an erection that is not natural will not produce natural offspring, and as such, demeans what God intended coitus to be: quick, awkward, fruitful, and consensual though probably still regrettable… but hey as long as it’s fruitful. Long story short, get someone pregnant on Viagra and that kid is probably going to have ADD.

The people who say Adderall somehow devalues learning are likely to go on to give a spiel about how our students’ dependence on the drug is yet another sign of America’s crumbling educational system, and then cite something like Chinese test scores. At that point you should probably direct them to stories like this, swallow one of their Viagra, and tell them to blow you.

Something I truly enjoyed experiencing my freshman year of college was the first time one of my fraternity brothers would take Adderall. They always had the same reaction. They would take it, pull out their books, and about thirty minutes into studying they would look up at me with wide eyes and simply say something like, “Whoa,” before diving into their notes with the zeal of Scrooge McDuck into his vault full of gold, or Greg Louganis into a pool of wieners.

The “whoa” feeling is the first stage of taking Adderall for an all-nighter. Once that brain candy kicks in, the user feels mentally invincible, like they could speed read through a thousand pages on sedimentary rocks and write essay questions about useless marketing theories with the passion and prose of a drunk Ernest Hemingway musing about making love while on safari during a great war. Granted in reality the fruits of your Adderall fueled labor might end up being more like this:

Just because you take Adderall does not mean you will spend your evening studying. Adderall is a powerful study weapon. It’s like a gun, and like a gun, it must be aimed. That is, of course, unless you’re mentally unstable and firing into a crowd, in which case you have REALLY bad ADD, and probably forgot to take your meds.

You are just as likely to spend hours on Facebook, or on your fantasy football team, or, if you’re more creatively inclined like myself, writing something completely useless and weird because you feel “inspired.” True story, once in college I was so Addied out in the middle of the night that I abandoned whatever I was studying and started writing a screenplay about a group of necrophiliacs that find themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and just have a field day, while the one normal guy who is unfortunate enough to end up with them has to suffer their crazy, corpse humping antics. God I wish I was joking.

At some point, probably about five minutes after the Adderall kicks in, the user will have the unstoppable urge to abuse their tobacco product of choice. Notice I did not write “use,” I wrote “abuse.” There is no moderation on Adderall. If you’ve taken it then you are going full tilt on whatever you do. If Adderall were around in the 1950s, when people were still allowed to smoke anywhere at will (and everyone smoked), people in college libraries would have literally suffocated to death.

Eventually the unstoppable sense of purpose that Adderall initially instills in its user will be replaced with a hollow, trance like state. You will be on autopilot. That is why it is important to make sure you don’t veer off course in stage one, because if you reach this stage and are still setting your fantasy lineup, you’re fucked. Autopilot mode is great though, because by this point it is pretty much impossible to stop focusing on what you are doing. See information, consume information, retain information. That is all your mind wants to do. No talking, no laughing, no eating, just learning…and maybe the casual twenty cigarettes or entire can of dip.

One of my other favorite things to witness freshman year was the aforementioned fraternity brothers on their first Adderall all-nighter experiencing their first crash. You crash pretty damn hard that first time, and it was always hilarious to watch them feebly close their textbooks and dutifully suck down one last cigarette before dragging themselves back to the house and getting three hours of sleep before their exam. By that point they looked less like students and more like sad meth addicts exhaustedly shuffling back to their trailer from whatever other trailer they had been doing meth in all night.

And that’s it. You just crash. Period. Your brain just sprinted twenty miles. Give it a damn break. Then wake up and pop another Addy, because it’s finals weeks, and you spent the semester drinking.

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